By Yankuba Jallow
A court-martial at Yundum Barracks involving Sulayman Badjie and Lamin Kujabi has on Tuesday convicted two soldiers to 3 years imprisonment and as well dismissed them from services with disgrace.
Warrant Officer Class One Sulayman Kujabi and Lance Corporal Lamin Kujabi were charged on the 21st November 2018 before the court-martial with incitement to mutiny, conspiracy to commit mutiny and endeavor to persuade members of GAF to take part in mutiny. Both of the soldiers denied culpability but for the court-martial there is overwhelming evidence adduced by the prosecution suggesting that the convicts committed the crimes.
When the case was called before the panel, Counsel A.M. Yusuf, the Principal State Counsel appeared for the State together with Lieutenant B. Sanneh while Lawyer O.Suso from the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA) appeared for the convicts along with a Major Basiru Sarr, Major Mustapha Badjie and Lieutenant Commander Fara Jobe.
According to the court-martial’s judgment, the two soldiers were participants of a ‘WhatsApp’ group called “Ajamat” or “True Friends” created to carryout mutiny and other offences.
On Count one, the accused persons were charged with incitement of mutiny contrary to Section 47 (a) of the Gambia Armed Force Act. According to the particulars of offence, WO1 Sulayman Badjie and LCPL Lamin Kujabi, on or about the month of July 2017 whilst in Darfur Sudan on official duties, and other places in the Republic of the Gambia incited certain members of GAF to take part in an intended munity.
On Count Two, the two were charged with conspiracy to commit munity contrary to Section 47 (b) of the Gambia Armed forces Act. According to the particulars of offence, the two soldiers, on or about the month of July 2017 whilst in Darfur Sudan on official duties and other places in the Republic of the Gambia, conspired with other members of GAF through a ‘WhatsApp’ chat group known as ‘true friends’, to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Gambia by forceful means.
On Count three, the two were charged with endeavour to persuade members of the Gambia Armed Forces to take part in mutiny contrary to section 47 (c) of the Gambia Armed Forces Act. According to the particulars of offence, the two accused persons on or about the month of July 2017 whilst in Darfur Sudan on official duties belonged to a secret ‘WhatsApp’ chart group, where they endeavoured to persuade members of the Gambia Armed Forces, to participate in an intended mutiny.
The two soldiers were sentenced to 3 – year imprisonment on the charge of mutiny. On the second and third counts, the two soldiers were convicted a jail term of one year for each count.
On his plea of mitigation, Counsel O. Suso for the two soldiers said Badjie has been a member of the Gambia Armed Forces for 25 years, adding he has always served with dedication and commitment. Married with six children, Lawyer Suso said Badjie has been detained for a year and half and in which he lost his father and as a result, it made him the sole breadwinner of his extended family. He said Badjie is a first time offender who has never been found wanting during his length of service in the military.
“He joined the military for the love he has for this country and his quest to maintain law and order has taken him beyond the borders of The Gambia. He has served in peacekeeping missions in both Liberia and Darfur,” he said.
About Kujabi, Counsel Suso said he is married with 3 children who are all school going students. Counsel Suso said the 33 – year – old is a first time offender. Suso told the court that Kujabi joined the military because of the love he has for the country and he has always executed his 12 years services with dedication and commitment to his duties and has always been obedient to his authority. Suso said Badjie, is the sole breadwinner of his family. Suso told the panelists of the court-martial that the two soldiers have health issues and therefore, imposing long term sentences on them would affect their health.
At the end of his plea of mitigation, Counsel Suso urged the court-martial to tamper justice with mercy relying on the case of Nyabally v The State and section 29(2) of the Criminal Code.
For their part, the panel after considering the plea of mitigation on behalf of the two soldiers by their Counsel and their length of detention, the court sentenced them to three years imprisonment.